Nigerian Couple, Hakeem & Abiola Nosiru, Win $50M in Ontario Lottery

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Abiola Nosiru

Canadian-Nigerian couple endured a roller-coaster ride of emotions when a lottery ticket worth $50 million went missing only to be found and returned by someone at their church. Hakeem Nosiru won the January 17, 2014 Lotto Max draw and was one day away from claiming the money when the signed ticket, which Hakeem taped to the inside of his wife’s purse for safekeeping, went missing after they attended church.

That sparked a frantic search of their home, with garbage bins being upended and their contents picked through, an effort that left Nosiru and his wife empty handed and feeling ‘miserable.’ But that despair turned to joy after a fellow member of the congregation discovered the ticket and reunited it with them on April 1, 2014, a return made possible because Nosiru signed the ticket with their address.

But the saga wasn’t over yet, as Nosiru gave the ticket to Ontario Provincial Police, who were investigating the matter for Ontario Lottery and Gaming to ensure there were no further snags. Everything checked out and Nosiru and his wife Abiola were beaming for the cameras at the prize centre last Monday, telling reporters they were planning on travelling the world and helping out their family.

Abiola Nosiru said that when she realized her husband’s winning ticket had disappeared from her purse, “I had a fly in my stomach and I couldn’t sleep for days.”

“I couldn’t eat. I was devastated,” she said. “We just wanted to see the reality. And the reality is right here now,” she added, fighting back tears.

Abiola is not sure what they’ll do for the woman who ended their losing streak, but told her: “I just want to say thank you.”

Hakeem Nosiru held $50 million in his hands. And then it was gone. The GTA’s newest multimillionaire could hardly believe it when he checked his Lotto Max ticket in January. He ran through the aisles of the convenience store shouting for joy and crying after it was confirmed he’d won the jackpot.

But a day later, the ticket was gone.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Nosiru said Monday as he and his wife of 29 years, Abiola, finally collected their prize. “I haven’t slept since.”

Nosiru had given the ticket to his wife to keep in her purse. Sometime after they went to church the next day it disappeared.

“I couldn’t sleep for days, I couldn’t eat. I was devastated,” Abiola said.

Ironically, Nosiru was so concerned about losing the ticket the previous day that he put it in an envelope and duct-taped it to his stomach. He gave it to his wife because he was still afraid he would misplace it. When he found out she had lost it, he wasn’t mad, he said, it was in God’s hands.  “God gave us the money,” he said. “We lose the ticket and eventually we found it.  Thanks God for that.” Months went by and the couple filled out all the paperwork with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Then, on April Fool’s Day, a member of their church parish called — she’d found the ticket. Abiola went to pick it up. “When I found it I was so happy,” she said.

The OLG couldn’t pay out the jackpot immediately without the ticket and a police investigation ensued. When the ticket turned up, police established that it was Nosiru’s property. There was no finding of any criminality in the case, OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti said. The lesson in all of this, the OLG says, is sign that ticket. “Keep it in a safe place and check it often as well,” Bitonti said. The couple, who are originally from Nigeria and have lived in Brampton for 17 years, said they don’t have any immediate plans to spend their jackpot. They’re just relieved the ordeal is over.


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